Veteran catcher Robinson Chirinos announced on Twitter today that he is retiring from professional baseball. “With a happy, yet heavy heart, I am announcing my retirement from professional baseball,” the statement reads. “After much contemplation and reflection, I have decided to close this chapter of my life. It has not been an easy decision, but I feel that it is the right one for me as I have given my heart and soul to this sport over so many years.” He then goes on to thank his family members, teammates, coaches, fans, team staff and many others who he crossed paths with over the years.
Chirinos, now 38 years old, originally signed with the Cubs as an amateur out of Venezuela back in 2000, shortly after his 16th birthday. An infielder at that time, he would toil away in the Cubs’ minor league system for a decade, starting his move to the catcher position in 2008. He was added to the club’s 40-man roster after 2010 but was traded to the Rays a few months later, going alongside Chris Archer and others as the Cubs acquired Matt Garza.
It was in that 2011 season that Chirinos was able to make his major league debut, getting into 20 games, but he had to miss the entire 2012 campaign due to a concussion. He was traded to the Rangers in April of 2013 for a player to be named later and would eventually spend six years with that club. His role was initially limited but gradually grew over time as he provided some pop behind the plate. From 2013 to 2018, he hit 67 home runs in 442 games, slashing .233/.325/.443 during that time for a wRC+ of 104. That coincided with a good stretch for the club as well, as Chirinos was able to get into four postseason games with the Rangers between 2015 and 2016.
He reached free agency for the first time after 2018 and he eventually signed with the Astros for one year and $5.75MM. He had a nice season in Houston, launching 17 home runs and hitting .238/.347/.443 for a wRC+ of 112. He would get into 14 more postseason games that year as the Astros went to the World Series, ultimately falling to the Nationals in seven games.
He would go into journeyman mode for the next few years. He returned to the Rangers for 2020 on a one-year, $6.75MM deal but ultimately hit just .162/.232/.243 in the shortened season, which included a trade to the Mets. He signed a minor league deal with the Yankees for 2021 but fractured his wrist after being hit by a pitch in Spring Training. He was released and eventually got into 45 games for the Cubs after returning to health, then got into another 67 contests with the Orioles last year.
All told, it was an unusual career for Chirinos, who seemed to do everything a little later than normal. He didn’t start playing his primary position until his mid-20s, then didn’t make it to the majors until his age-27 season and didn’t really become a regular until he was 30. Both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference consider his best season by wins above replacement to be 2019, his age-35 campaign.
Despite that delayed trajectory, he still managed to get into 714 major league games and make 2,457 plate appearances. He tallied 480 hits, including 95 home runs, scoring 275 times and driving in 306. MLBTR congratulates Chirinos on a fine career and wishes him the best in the next stages of his life.